Poem: Nickel Mines

A one room schoolhouse

Fields of grain

Soft sounds of rural life

Creaking of leather straps and wagon wheels

Manure and hickory smoke

The wind blows metallic terror

as a truck backs up into a nightmare

a man

torn by


“I’m trying to find something”

he says to disarm

then he brings out the guns

The clatter of rounds in the chamber

A threat revealed

Some escape

Some are let go

adults with babies, and all the boys

hot with fear and sweat

but the girls are kept in quivering terror

zip ties cut into the flesh

trembling faith stretched thin by evil

Some real or imagined offense

far in the man’s past

brings murder to Nickel Mines

take me first, says one girl, that the others may live

a second girl asks for the same

One shot, two, three, then four, Five and six,


Eight, Nine,


Acrid smoke fills the room

Naomi and Lena. Mary Liz and Anna Mae. Marion

all dead.

Did the killer believe in Jesus and

if so, was he whisked straight to heaven

How do you get justice when someone kills themselves after murdering children

When it was all over

the families sought out the wife and children of the killer

                and touched them

                offered help



for the families, how is it that the first thing they did




copyright 2015 Charles Sheehan-Miles

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